Calling for a Europe where no one is executed, the Council of Europe has passed a resolution urging Belarus to end the practice once and for all. Observer nations Japan and the US were also urged to do so.
The Council’s work on abolition has effectively freed Europe from the death penalty, although the researchers say last year 23 countries carried out executions.
Sandra Babcock, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, said: “We have done research on 90 countries, as well as two different territories, Palestine and Taiwan, that still retain the death penalty in their laws. Some of these countries apply the death penalty by carrying out executions. Others just have it as a matter of law, but they never apply it.”
The launch of Sandra Babcock’s Death Penalty Worldwide database and website came the same day as the resolution bid to further human rights.
The Council parliamentarian who wrote the resolution, Renate Wohlwend, underscored that abolishing execution is a central value of the 47-nation organisation: “It became a condition to be a member in the Council of Europe after the fall of the Iron Wall, and I think that was one of the greatest things the Council of Europe could do to: make it a pre-condition for membership.”
Belarus is the only country in Europe not in the Council. The resolution condemned its continued application of the death penalty, which keeps the former Soviet republic from joining.
Activists say bad justice systems trap many innocent individuals on death row around the world, in appalling conditions.